Vegan Pesto Pasta

This homemade vegan pesto pasta recipe is bright and flavorful and is one of my go-to recipes, especially in the summer and fall. It has a classic appeal that never goes out of style. Made with fresh vegan basil pesto it’s a true vegan basic.

Peach Cobbler

Vegan Pesto Pasta is one of the gorgeous wonders of the kitchen. It pretty much ticks every box: it’s simple to make, elegant, filling, fragrant, and visually beautiful. As they say, we eat with our eyes and this vegan pesto pasta is as tasty as it looks. Pesto and pasta are a classic food pairing, like tomatoes and mozzarella as in my Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella Sandwich, or my Tomato, Basil Margherita Pizza.

Vegan Pesto Pasta appeals to 99% of the people who sit at my dining table. It’s a hearty and delicious dinner and (the morning after) packs easily into lunch boxes. It comes together in about 15 minutes and fills the air with a delightful aroma. This is one of those meals I make over and over again. It’s best when served with my fresh vegan basil pesto, but in the winter months, you can buy the jarred version from the supermarket. I grow my basil inside in the winter months either under lights or on a south-facing window.

A vegan food journal with fresh, delicious recipes.

Hello, I'm Denise.

I love to eat, garden, travel, and do yin yoga! I make plant-based recipes and photograph them from my 1920’s, remodeled apartment in Rhode Island. I've always loved fresh basil. Put some fresh basil leaves on a piece of cardboard, drizzle on a little olive oil and sea salt, and I'd be tempted to eat it! ❤️

Peach Cobbler

Reasons You’ll Love This Vegan Pesto Pasta Recipe

There are so many reasons to love this simple recipe. I name a few below:

    • It has a classic taste that never goes out of style. It’s delicious in its many variations and is a universally appealing recipe.
    • It’s visually appealing. Yes, it’s true! We eat with our eyes and this vegan pesto pasta recipe really gets our mouths watering.
    • It’s fragrant. Any recipe made with fresh vegan basil pasta is going to smell amazing! There’s no accounting for a recipe that produces aromas that get everyone excited to eat!
    • It’s flexible. Don’t have pine nuts on hand? Don’t worry you can use any number of other nuts, such as walnuts or pistachios.
Peach Cobbler


How to Make Vegan Pesto Pasta

Vegan pesto pasta is so easy to make it’s scary. It takes about 15 minutes soup-to-nuts (as they say!)

First, you’ll need to whip up a fresh batch of vegan basil pesto. My 5-ingredient recipe takes about 10 minutes to make in a food processor.

Vegan Basil Pesto

Cook your pasta in a big pot of boiling water with salt until it’s el dente.

Peach Cobbler

Before you drain your pasta reserve 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water. Add it back into the pot with the pesto and stir. The pasta water thins the pesto.

Toss in the pasta with the pesto. You’ll want to coat as much of the pasta as possible.

Peach Cobbler

Add in a big handful of arugula. It will wilt pretty quickly so I don’t toss it in. I try to serve it on the side to keep it crispy.

Peach and Arugula Salad

Finally, add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes for some heat.

Peach and Arugula Salad

Vegan Pesto Pasta Tips

These simple tips will make your vegan pesto pasta perfect every time.

    • Reserve some of the salty pasta water. The salty, starchy pasta water combines easily with the pesto and loosens it up enough to evenly coat your pasta. Because of the starchy quality, the pasta water helps the pesto become more creamy than if you just used plain water. It also adds an additional flavor to the recipe.
    • Add the arugula (or other green) last. I don’t like wilted greens so to avoid this add the greens last. I don’t mix in my greens when the pesto pasta is still on the stove. I keep them at the side. I also have a bowl of fresh arugula on the table.
    • Taste and make adjustments. Vegan basil pesto has many, many variations: it varies in brightness, texture, and overall flavor. Taste and adjust before serving. Depending on your pesto you might want to add olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt, or red pepper flakes.
Peach and Arugula Salad

Pesto Pasta Recipe Variations

Pesto Pasta is wonderfully customizable and lends itself to many variations.

    • Change out the nuts. Choose from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts—anything goes. You can also use seeds, like pepitas, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds.
    • Change out the greens. Finish off the recipe with kale or spinach instead of the arugula.
    • Garnish the final dish. Garnish with roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli, or roasted cherry tomatoes.
    • Add in simple extras. Add in mozzarella or even a few capers
    • Swap out the pasta. I made my vegan pesto pasta with spaghetti, but any pasta will work.
Peach and Arugula Salad

Let me know how you like this vegan basil pesto pasta and any variations you like in the comments below. Enjoy!

Vegan Pesto Pasta

Denise Keniston - Basil Lover
This homemade vegan pesto pasta recipe is bright and flavorful and is one of my go-to recipes, especially in the summer and fall. It has a classic appeal that never goes out of style. Made with fresh vegan basil pesto it’s a true vegan basic.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
25 minutes
Servings 4 20


  • 6 oz spaghetti, reserve 1/2 cup starchy pasta water
  • 1/2 cup vegan basil pesto
  • 4 cups arugula
  • fresh lemon juice, as desired
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid before draining. Drain the pasta and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil.
  • In a large skillet over very low heat, add the pesto, 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat, and more pasta water as needed to create a loose sauce. The amount of water needed will depend on thickness of your pesto.
  • Turn the heat off. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste. Then, add the arugula and toss to barely wilt. Garnish with the red pepper flakes and pine nuts and serve.
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